Welcome to NLMS Music Summer School at Downe House School

A music summer school for adult amateur players and singers, with two orchestras, choir, string group, brass ensemble and – new for 2021 – a percussion course.

Update 23-5-21: 2021 NLMS MUSIC SUMMER SCHOOL

It is with great regret that we must cancel this year’s Summer School. We waited as long as this before making a decision in the hope that it would prove possible to go ahead, but Downe House School has just informed us that it is unable to accommodate us this year. The school remains committed to working with NLMS in the future, and has assured us that it hopes and intends to welcome us again from 6 or 13 August 2022, assuming that conditions are more normal. The date will be confirmed in September.

Our Director, Nicola Wydenbach, will be exploring with the tutors the possibility of creating an online Summer School again, building on the success of last year’s offer. More news of this soon, but in the meantime please advise The Administrator, Suzanne (suzanne.meaden@gmail.com) whether you wish us to hold your money over until next year to secure your place, or to receive a refund (in which case, you will need to provide Suzanne with your bank details).

Thank you so much for your support. We had high hopes for this year’s Summer School until just a few days ago, but sadly it was not to be.

Philip Meaden
Chair of the Trustee Council    

Many congratulations to the NLMA’s President, The Rt Hon. Earl Howe PC, who has been awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for political and parliamentary service. Lord Howe is a longstanding and enthusiastic supporter of the Association’s work, and an accomplished composer.


The 2021 Summer School – our 40th anniversary – was to have been held from Saturday 7 to 14 August 2021 at Downe House School in Cold Ash, near Newbury in Berkshire, UK.

This was to be broadly similar to what was planned for 2020 – including course repertoire.

The 2019 Summer School was a huge success, with excellent attendance at a superb new venue, and great music-making by all the ensembles and friendly support from our amazing team of tutors. We believe that our summer school is the premium offering in the market!

Of the 80% of people who responded to our feedback survey in 2019:

  • 100% would recommend the summer school
  • 97% planned to come again in 2020
  • 95% said the course is good or excellent value for money


Main house block

Downe House School is a girls’ boarding school and an ideal venue for our music summer school.  Music accommodation is plentiful, the residential accommodation comprises single and double rooms, all with wash basins, catering is of a very high quality, and the buildings are accessible and close together, with parking nearby.  Situated only a few miles from the M4 and A34, and from Newbury station, the school has excellent transport links. Extensive and beautiful grounds as well as a swimming pool complement the facilities available to course members.  And of course we will be setting up our usual bar!  Overall, Downe House School is a wonderful venue for enjoying friendship in music.


NLMS offers a challenging and enjoyable week of music making in a very friendly atmosphere.  Two orchestras, a choir, a brass ensemble and a string group provide a wide variety of courses to suit all abilities and interests.  New in 2021 is a percussion course.

A feature of NLMS Music Summer School is the very high ratio of tutors to participants, with a professional tutor for each instrumental and vocal section.  All courses enjoy wide-ranging and exciting repertoire.

An extensive choice of optional sessions is open to all, complementing the main courses.  We anticipate 2021 will feature baroque strings, woodwind ensemble, open strings and an open choir session. This year will also see the return by popular demand of Open Light Music. 

Concerts take place on many of the evenings, given both by participants and professionals.


We aim to provide enjoyment through music-making and, while we achieve high standards of performance, this is never at the expense of friendliness and good humour. I hope to see you at Downe House in August 2020 and, whether you are a regular attender or a new member, you can be assured of a warm welcome.

Steve Bingham
NLMS Music Summer School Director, 2020

Video © Rhodri Spearing


See what makes NLMS Music Summer Schools so highly regarded by participants…

“A high spot of our year. Many thanks for providing such a super musical experience.”

“This week was close to being perfect for me.”

“Not only musically helpful but friendly. I look forward to next year.”

“A wonderful week of hard, fulfilling study and practice.” 

“A very good social opportunity to meet and make new friends.”

“The venue, organisation, facilities and camaraderie have been 1st rate.”

“I had such a good time. Music-making is so exciting!”

“This course kept me smiling for weeks.”


>> Explore Downe House School

Explore the courses available, including details of repertoire…

>> Symphony Orchestra

>> Sinfonietta

>> Choir

>> Brass Ensemble

>> Percussion Group

>> String Group


Whether you are one of our many frequent returners, or thinking about coming for the first time, at NLMS Music Summer School you will enjoy a wealth of music making activities, professional tuition in an encouraging and supportive atmosphere, with excellent food, convivial social activities, beautiful surroundings and lots more besides. Applications are now open – we’re looking forward to receiving your application!

>> Apply Now!